Earthquakes to be jointly tracked in Europe

Annakaisa Korja, head of the Institute of Seismology, leads a team building a database and a portal for geophysical observations in Finland.

This year, the Academy of Finland has granted nearly €20 million in research infrastructure funding to a total of 48 projects. One of the recipients is the Institute of Seismology at the University of Helsinki.

“We will become a part of a European observation network and maintain a system in Finland which records the movements of our tectonic plate,” explains Annakaisa Korja.

She was elected the new head of the Institute of Seismology at the beginning of the year.

A joint observation and information service

The intention is to create a Europe-wide joint observation and information service, the European Plate Observing System (EPOS). This system will serve academia, students, research institutes, governmental agencies, citizens and businesses in the field of geosciences. It should be operational in 2020.

EPOS consists of national geophysical measuring stations, data networks and international data centres in Europe as well as the headquarters. This makes EPOS a distributed research infrastructure, involving 22 countries. A shared database management and the related user portal will be constructed.

Navigation and positioning services

The network of geophysical stations will collect data on the movements of the Eurasian plate as well as other active geological processes and associated natural disasters.

“International seismic stations are important when we need to locate earthquakes and monitor volcanoes,” Korja says. “Magnetic observation stations are used to track magnetic storms and changes in Earth's magnetic field.”

In addition to these monitoring systems, a geodetic network serves as the basis for global, European and national coordinate systems and GNSS positioning systems. It also offers base stations for regional navigation and positioning services and it is used to monitor the Eurasian plate and its internal deformation, such as postglacial rebound.

Research and public duties

In Finland, the network consists of seismic, geodetic and magnetic stations, electromagnetic sounding networks as well as geophysical laboratories. The national seismic network comprises 25 stations, of which 19 are operated by the Institute of Seismology.

“With the new research funding, we will expand the national network and link the data online with the EPOS. It will be freely available through EPOS and associated data centres,” Korja explains.

Finnish universities and research institutes can then correspondingly use the European data in their own research and public duties.

Finland’s EPOS efforts involve nine partners. The Institute of Seismology coordinates the research infrastructure on a national level. EPOS is one of the Pan-European research infrastructures on the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) roadmap.

Up-to-date earthquake reports and maps

Finland’s Strategy and Roadmap for Research Infrastructures 2014–2020